Battle of the Alte Veste

Coordinates: 49°27′11.5″N 10°57′54″E / 49.453194°N 10.96500°E / 49.453194; 10.96500

The Battle of the Alte Veste was a significant battle of the Thirty Years' War.

Battle of Alte Veste
Part of the Swedish intervention in the Thirty Years' War
Alte Veste.jpg
Alte Veste in 1705, engraving by J. Böner [de]
Date24–25 August 1632 (O.S.) [1]
Alte Veste, southwest of Nürnberg, Franconian Circle, Holy Roman Empire
(present-day Bavaria, Germany)
Result Imperial tactical victory
Strategically inconclusive: Siege of Nuremberg lifted shortly afterwards; both armies withdraw
 Holy Roman Empire
Catholic League (Germany).svg Catholic League
Sweden Kingdom of Sweden
Commanders and leaders
Albrecht von Wallenstein Gustavus Adolphus
Lennart Torstensson  (POW)
43,500 men[2]

44,600 men

30,011 infantry in 37 regiments and 306 companies.
15,419 cavalry in 39 regiments and 263+ companies[3]
Casualties and losses
400 killed
1,000 wounded
1,000 killed
1,400 killed or wounded
Alte Veste, Zirndorf is located in Bavaria
Alte Veste, Zirndorf
Alte Veste, Zirndorf
Location within Bavaria
Alte Veste, Zirndorf is located in Germany
Alte Veste, Zirndorf
Alte Veste, Zirndorf
Alte Veste, Zirndorf (Germany)


In the late summer of 1632 the army of Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus met Albrecht von Wallenstein near Nürnberg. The successes of Gustavus Adolphus over General Tilly forced Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II to recall Albrecht von Wallenstein into military service from retirement. Wallenstein was unmatched in his ability to raise troops, and within a few weeks he took to the field with a fresh army.

The Imperial Army's ranks swelled as Wallenstein moved to stop the Swedes' advance at Nuremberg. Repeatedly, Gustav Adolf formed for battle and challenged Wallenstein to come out of his fortified camp, but was refused. As the supply situation continued to worsen, the impetuous King grew desperate.


He attacked the Imperial camp at the Alte Veste (or "Old Fortress")—a derelict castle situated atop a wooded hill. Its ownership would then allow the Swedish guns to dominate the Imperial camp. The Imperials were prepared with trenches and an abatis that stymied the Swedish advance. When the vaunted brigades faltered, much of the cavalry was sent in dismounted. Wallenstein saw an opportunity to strike a blow and sallied his cavalry and cut down many of the exhausted troops. Only the final introduction of the Swedish cavalry reserve was able to avert a complete disaster.

Alte Veste ruins from southwest in 2004


The Swedes had been defeated. The Commander of the Swedish artillery, Lennart Torstenson, was taken prisoner and locked up for nearly a year at Ingolstadt. Gustav Adolf received reinforcements in early September, and once again unsuccessfully attempted to break the siege at the Battle of Fürth on 3 September (n.s.). Several weeks later, lack of supplies led Wallenstein to break camp and move north, allowing the Swedish forces out of Nuremburg. The two armies met again the following six weeks later at the disastrous Battle of Lützen, in which the Catholics were defeated, but Sweden lost Gustavus Adolphus in a pyrrhic victory.


  1. ^ August 24 (old style or pre-acceptance of the Gregorian calendar in Protestant states) September 2 (new style, or Gregorian dating), 1632.
  2. ^ a b c Clodfelter 2017, p. 40.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-04-12. Retrieved 2016-03-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


  • Clodfelter, M. (2017). Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Encyclopedia of Casualty and Other Figures, 1492–2015 (4th ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-0786474707.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)